Shopping centers bring new businesses to town

Adding new business is always a good thing.
And Trumbull is in a big boom with three new developments — Madison Village, the Village at Long Hill Green and the Long Hill Marketplace — proving there is plenty demand for commercial real estate space in town.
“We’ve been able to foster a business-friendly culture but also create an environment where the tax rate is stable — and that’s what businesses are looking for,” said First Selectman Tim Herbst last week, discussing the three shopping areas that are all set to open within the next year.
The first will be Madison Village, which is officially set to open later this month at 4244 Madison Avenue at the former site of P.J’s Garden Exchange.
The 15,400-square-foot project, which broke ground in October, will celebrate its first grand opening when Ninety 9 Bottles opens its doors later this month. The wine and liquor store, which has locations in Norwalk and Westport, will take up 3,000 square feet of space.
In August and October, Pure Poetry and the Sitting Duck Tavern will also open doors for new business, respectively.
Pure Poetry, which will be owned and operated by Portia Antonio, is a home decor, accessories and apothecary business.
“The site is perfectly positioned to be a boutique shopping center,” said Jamie Bratt, director of economic and community development. “In addition to the three businesses that will be opening this summer and fall, we’d like to add something like a bakery or a coffee shop, as well as a yoga shop.
“Insurance companies and offices for architects are other options we’re looking into; they’re always in need of space next to retailers,” she added.
Bratt and Herbst were both very complimentary of the project’s developer, M.F. DiScala & Co.
“He’s been great to work with and he really understands our shared vision for this building,” Bratt said. “We want it to be a place that honors the community.”
Attention to detail
Herbst believes Madison Village is the perfect response to what residents said they wanted and needed in town — more amenities and more walkability.
“You can take a bike or walk there — you don’t have to get in your car,” he said.
Bratt agrees, pointing to the number of parking spaces at the development.
“It’s less than 100 spaces, and there’s lots of bike racks,” she said.
“It’s been done in a responsible way that doesn’t undermine the character of the town,” she added. “That’s one thing we’re very proud of.”
Attention to detail was important at the onset of the project. That’s why there’s plenty of sidewalk space and crossways for users who are walking and biking to the shopping center.
There’s also a courtyard that restaurant-goers at the Sitting Duck will get to overlook when they eat outdoors on the business’s patio.
“The Sitting Duck’s outdoor space will be the perfect place for people to eat and gather together,” Bratt said of the Stratford-based restaurant opening its second location.
“It’s a local establishment that’s connected to Southport Brewing Company and the SBC restaurant chain,” she added. “It’s well established in the craft-brewing scene and we’re excited to see what they can bring to town.”
More to come
Bratt estimates that three or four more additional businesses could be opening on Madison Avenue before the center, which has no residential units, is completely filled.
“It all depends on size,” she said. “We’ve had consistent inquiries about the space that’s opened.”
One interested party Bratt mentioned was a “very recognizable boutique clothing shop,” the name of which she can’t release.
“It’s a boutique market and this particular brand identifies strongly with what we’re doing in this neighborhood setting — they think it’s a perfect fit and so do we,” she said.

Long Hill Green
The Village and the Marketplace that overlook Long Hill Green will be catty-cornered of each other.
The 7,200-square-foot Marketplace is 100% filled, according to Bratt, and should be open some time this fall.
Construction at the Village, which is a mixed-use development, is underway. The building will have eight one-bedroom apartments on its second story to join with its 9,000 square feet of ground level retail space.
“It could be five stores,” Bratt said. “It’ll probably end up being only four.”
About a third of the retail space has been filled, she said.
“We have one committed tenant — a package store,” Bratt confirmed. “We still have two-thirds of the space available.”
The goal is to fill the remaining portion of the property, which isn’t expected to open until the spring of 2016, with new restaurants.
“We really want to have patio dining available that overlooks the green,” Bratt said. “Our goal is to upgrade the Long Hill Green space — it’s a dynamic space that’s the perfect place to have dinner and enjoy everything our wonderful community has to offer.”
There’s an additional 3,200-square-foot standalone unit that’s part of the property, she said, which would be perfect for a business with a drive-thru component.
“We’re thinking either food or a bank for that part,” Bratt said.
Local character
With all the attention to detail, Bratt and Herbst hope the new shopping centers breathe the local character of the town.
“At the Marketplace, there’s vertical siding and it’s painted a red-barn color,” Bratt said. “The Village is going to look like an old-style general store with four distinct storefronts...
“We’re very proud of not only the volume, but the quality of these designs — they reall honor the local character,” she added.
“There’s some specific character elements we wanted to have and the town planners made sure we got them,” Herbst added.
The first selectman can’t wait to cut the ribbons at the town’s first new business over on Madison Avenue later this month.
“I’m very excited for Trumbull,” he said. “These are very exciting times for us. While most economies are still in a state of recession, we have businesses making a long-term investment in our community...
“It’s going great — we couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It shows the economic development is working and the town is growing, and that’s precisely why we’ve been able to keep tax rates down.”